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K Street Files: Strategists Create New Firm

The bishops object to part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that requires employers to cover the cost of contraception and other reproductive health services. The law initially included a carve-out for places of worship but not for religious institutions, such as universities and hospitals.

After the bishops objected, the administration last month adjusted to rule so that insurers, not religious institutions, cover the cost of mandated services. But the bishops remain dissatisfied, partly because some institutions provide their own health insurance coverage. The statement from the bishops conference raised concern over “unspecified and dubious ‘accommodation’ for other religious organizations that are denied the exemption.”

Even the administration’s proposed rules for how to implement the health care compromise ruffled feathers. Conservative bloggers faulted the administration for waiting until late Friday afternoon to release its Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, which announces that final regulations probably won’t be published until Aug. 1, 2013 ­— conveniently, well after the November elections.

API: Don’t Blame Us

Just as the public — and political — backlash against rising gasoline prices ratchets up, the American Petroleum Institute on Tuesday announced an outline of what the Obama administration should do to curb the escalating costs. The oil and gas lobby also launched a new campaign that will include online advertising, grass-roots organizing and a new website,

The purpose of the effort, API President and CEO Jack Gerard said on a conference call with reporters, is “to answer the misperceptions that are being created.”

The API called on the Obama administration to expand access to domestic energy sources and to take actions such as approving the Keystone XL oil pipeline. “America’s oil and natural gas industry has solutions to the serious energy problems facing this country and the top two concerns of most Americans: getting the economy moving and creating jobs,” Gerard said.

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